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Helen ends hunt, will go ‘Forward’ with Spacey

'Sixth's' Osment also co-starring in Leder-helmed pic

Helen Hunt has ended her attempt to juggle two movies at once and will star opposite Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment in “Pay It Forward” this February for Steven Reuther’s Bel Air Entertainment.

Until recently, the CAA-repped Hunt had attempted to shift her schedule to accommodate both “Forward” and the Mel Gibson starrer “What Women Want,” which Nancy Myers will direct for Lakeshore at Paramount.

When this arrangement proved impossible, Hunt ultimately picked “Forward,” which Warner Bros. co-finances with Bel Air and will distribute and “Peacemaker” helmer Mimi Leder will direct (Daily Variety, Nov. 23).

“Forward” is an adaptation by Leslie Dixon of a Catherine Ryan Hyde novel by the same name about a young boy’s attempt to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that challenge.

Osment (“The Sixth Sense”) co-stars as the kid whose solution is to invent a “pay it forward” system in which you do a good deed for a stranger. Instead of returning the favor to the giver, the recipient of your kindness must then pay it forward by doing a good deed for another stranger.

When the tyke brings a homeless person into his shocked mother’s house, the boy’s system is taken to a dramatic extreme.

Spacey stars as the teacher who initially has no idea what he has set in motion but quickly meets his student’s concerned mother and starts a relationship with her.

Observers have noted that the role of Osment’s mother is quite similar to the one Hunt played in “As Good as It Gets,” in which she portrayed a waitressing single mother who gets involved with an obsessive-compulsive writer.

Peter Abrams and Robert L. Levy of Tapestry Films are producing “Forward” with Reuther. Andrew Panay from Tapestry brought the project to his company to begin with.

Spacey is repped by WMA and managed by Joanne Horowitz; Osment is managed by Meredith Fine.

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